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'Road Trip' tickles audience and participants

A standing-room-only crowd filled the First Presbyterian Church Wednesday night for the first performance by The Bridge Players.

The musical adventure "Road Trip" took the audience on a bus trip from coast to coast and north to south with favorite tunes like "Route 66," "New York, New York," "On Wisconsin," "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and "This Land is Your Land."

For 10 weeks each of the last four summers, The Bridge for Youth with Disabilities has offered a summer day camp for 10 weeks in June, July and August. Its primary goal is to fill leisure and recreational needs when school is out of session for youth with disabilities.

"This is the first year we have ever done a musical as part of the summer camp," said Peg Gagnon, executive director of Bridge for Youth with Disabilities. "We were happy we could fill the Presbyterian Church.

Jill Boyd, volunteered her time as the musical director for the project, commuting two days a week from Eden Prairie, Minn., where she teaches music. Boyd has close connections with Bridge. Her mother, Linda Redding, is on the Bridge board of directors and serves as the program chair for the summer camp, and her brother T.J. Redding is one of the campers.

Boyd created the musical and held rehearsals twice a week. Campers created all of their props and costumes, adding to the summer activities. They also played an assortment of musical instruments during the musical.

"We wanted to make sure the instruments were purchased using funds from the Jonah Baumgartner Memorial Fund because he loved music so much," said Gagnon. Jonah, the son of Dan and Ronda Baumgartner of Hudson, was a special-needs student who died last November at the age of 13.

Summer camp is held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Four out of the five days, campers are out exploring, visiting the YMCA, area parks and local programs. They take at least two field trips a week to such places as the Science Museum, Pierce County Fair or the Osceola Train ride.

"Camp is a very expensive but necessary program," said Gagnon. Fifty percent of the cost of the program is underwritten with donations, and one of the reasons the costs are high is because of the ratio of one staff member to two campers. "It is that ratio that really attracts families to the camp program. I am not aware of another camp like ours in the area or in the state," said Gagnon, who commented there is always a waiting list. "We could not pull it off without volunteers."

"Camp is all about fun and friendship for everyone whether you have abilities or disabilities," said Gagnon.

For more information about Bridge for Youth with Disabilities, or to donate to the organization, visit, call (715) 381-8230 or e-mail

See the attached Photo Gallery for more pictures from the performance.